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  1. #1
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    Maine Touring: Greenville to Baxter

    I'm wondering if anyone has ever ridden from Greenville, Maine to Baxter State Park along the Silas Hill Rd, Greenville Rd & Golden Rd. I know conditions are dodgy, but how much so?

    My plan is Greenville to Baxter, and then head to Milo along rt 11. Any thoughts on this particular stretch?

    The plan is unloaded touring, with a support vehicle (driven by my loving wife).

  2. #2
    Old Crank
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    Greetings,
    I grew up in Greenville. If you plan to go beyond Greenville to the north the roads will be dirt, originally made for log trucks. Have a rugged bike, solid wide wheels/tires. and low gearing. I know the road from Greenville, Lily Bay, Kokajo, Rip Dam, and to Baxter well during the 70's while I worked for Scott Paper Company logging and on the log drive during college breaks. Things to think about: 1) The dirt roads get dusty in the summer, especially if has been a dry summer; 2)Blackflies, Moose flies, mosqitoes, no-see-ums- Us natives are used to these blood sucking state insects that swarm you in search of blood and guts. Do not wear blue, for they love that color...a red bandana soaked in Woodsman fly dope wrapped around your neck will help. If you are a flatlander, you will surely die since your blood and psychie are not used to this native terror...good luck there....; 3)Log trucks: these roads are private roads made for fast moving log trucks. They will stop for nothing, excepts maybe big moose. If your bike is lost in a dust cloud, these babies will eat you up, assuming that the black flies have not done so already. 4)Navigation: have a good map or GPS. The logging roads are a maze and it is easy to get lost up a dead end road or a road that peters out, a perfect place not to be found ever again....; 4) Flatlanders: Though welcomed by the natives for their free spending ways that provide some scraps of food and entertainment for the local population, they will run you over on the roads due to their inexperience dodging bears, moose, etc. Their eyes are not on the road, but off to the side looking for big creatures that come out to the middle of the road. This is why most moose/car collisions are from the Flatlanders not keeping their eyes on the road. I can only assume that bikes will not be seen by them. The natives have adapted to their ways in order to survive, but are glad that the black flies thin them out...

    Good luck on your adventure. As the sign at Kokajo says: This is God's country. Don't set it on fire and make it look like hell...

    From Vermont (Also god's Country)
    MotoMan

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    I'm not interested in riding any dirt roads. I'm under the impression that the route from Greenville to Baxter (the Golden Road) is paved (albeit hairy). Can anyone corroborate this?

  4. #4
    Old Crank
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    Greetings,
    Greenville is the last post of civilization in the North Woods. Traditionally, it was the staging areas for the loggers and the "Sports", those who came from the Flatlands to hunt and fish. Guides would provide them services in the North Woods tradition. The logging efforts over the years were controlled by a few big companies (Scott and Great Northern while I was growing up) who ruled their land like a private fiefdom. Greenville was a company town to the these companies, since they provided the most employment to the locals that was not of the seasonal type associated with the flatlander/tourist variety. However, this is changing due to the streams of globiliztion. This has decreased the demand for the forest products that used to flood out of the North Woods. The traditional companies mentioned were only interested in logging only. When the market changed due to increased foreign compitition (rotten trade deals...), these companies bailed out and sold out to the likes of Plum Creek. Plum Creek is a multi-national type who has their hands in many pots besides logging. They want to maximize the profit from the land in ways other then logging. They are proposing a big development for the North Woods: Condos, time shares, golf courses, resorts, suburbia, etc... In other words, they will destroy what people come North to find-wilderness, peace, good fishing/hunting, God's country. It will change the landscape as sure as a forest fire... Their scheme has devided Greenville in half. Those in favor want the jobs it will provide (service type, nowhere what logging pays) to help the depressed economy. Those against want to preserve the North Woods feeling that is Greenville's most valuable asset. Just as an aside, Millinocket is a ghost town afther the paper mills there have closed or scaled back. As for the Golden Road, it was built by Great Northern after the log drives down the rivers and lakes (a wonderful tradition and lost art, since I was of the last generation to participate; ecologically, much better then the trucks and roads...) were forced to stop due to the state mandates. Access roads were built to get the logs out of the woods. They were all private and dirt. They are still dirt to my knowledge. Paved roads were too expensive, both to build and maintain due to the long and cold winters. Basically, all roads north of Lily Bay and Rockwood (west side of Moosehead) are dirt/gravel. However, if Plum Creek gets its way, much pavement will occur... Greenville and the North Woods will look like suburbia NY/NJ...
    If you want a paved ride to Baxter, it will not happen. The best you can do from Greenville is to head south to Guilford, continue to Dover, head north via Brownville Jct/Milo, to Millinocket. After Millinocket to Baxter it is dirt, not unless they have changed it over the years at Baxter, which I doubt very much. I say head north on the dirt with a sturdy bike. That would be the true adventure. Good Luck! PS: do not forget the bug juice and benedryl....

    MotoMan

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MotoMan View Post
    If you want a paved ride to Baxter, it will not happen. The best you can do from Greenville is to head south to Guilford, continue to Dover, head north via Brownville Jct/Milo, to Millinocket. After Millinocket to Baxter it is dirt, not unless they have changed it over the years at Baxter, which I doubt very much. I say head north on the dirt with a sturdy bike. That would be the true adventure. Good Luck! PS: do not forget the bug juice and benedryl....

    MotoMan
    If I recall, the road from Millinocket to the entrance gate at Baxter State Park is fully paved. Once inside the park however, you are on dirt roads. I was up there about 4 years ago to climb Katahdin and I don't remember there being a dirt road until we hit the park itself.

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    Just did those roads

    I now know more about the roads north of Greenville. One of the folks at Northwoods Outfitters in Greenville (good place for bike stuff if you are ever there) gave me advice on my proposed route. The Golden Road is supposed to be officially off-limits to bicycles but coming in from Greenville via Kokadjo the gate no longer exists and there are no signs stating any prohibitions against anything except stopping cars on the shoulder so I didn't get told I was violating any rules until I reached the Chewonki's Big Eddy campground and was just looking around when an incredulous staffer there asked me what I was doing. By then it was a little too late to do anything except just continue on.

    My original plan had been to go from Greenville up the Silas Hill to the G.R. to Telos Rd. and then a bit further north shoot off to the Nesowadnehunk Field area along the BSP tote road, then follow the tote road north to the Matagamon gate and out. I learned in Greenville that they had closed the gate at Nesowadnehunk and there was no longer any official entry of the park there.

    The road past Katahdin Iron Works is also officially closed to bicycles (although the AMC seems to have some kind of waiver for their activities along that road).

    The Greenville area seems to be a cul-de-sac as far as officially permitted bike touring north is concerned.

    Actually riding on the G.R. seemed to be no big deal. It's the widest dirt road I've ever been on and turns to pavement before reaching Ripogenus dam. It's paved from there all the way to the intersection with the Baxter State Park access road which I took to Millinocket. There weren't too many trucks that passed me on the paved part of the G.R. From Rip dam out to the BSP entrance road I was only passed by four. None of them seemed too annoyed from what I could tell.

    I passed up my round-Katahdin-ride at the point where I needed to U turn back toward the BSP entrance. I'd given up too much ground to want to retrace my ride back inside the park and besides I'd gotten plenty of dirt road miles in already. I had ridden from Eustis to West Forks and then to Greenville following logging roads 99% of the way. Besides my pick-up in Rye N.H. was only 3 1/2 days away.

    If anyone wants the beta on backcountry touring from Eustis to West Forks and beyond I've got some.

    My rig BTW is a late 90s Bridgestone MB-1 with 26 x 1.5 Trek Inverts. It rolled right along on the pavement (I'd ridden up from Massachusetts) and did just fine on all of the dirt and some of the mud that I encountered.

  7. #7
    Old Crank
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    Hilltowner,
    Thanks for the update. As a Greenville native, it was fun to read about your adventures. In the 70's, I would ride my bike (UO-8) as far as Rockwood/Lily Bay. Much has changed since I worked and played in the North Woods. Greenville has become much more of a tourist town and less of a logging town. Northwoods Outfitters are in the old Sanders Store building, where you could buy anything from clothes to fishing gear for adventures into the woods. The Indian Store was unique, lost forever... My Dad would play cribbage with the "gang" in back room of the local garage (now everyday Store 24 type store...) and the stories were great... The Kate hauls tourists instead of logs... As they say, you can never go home again.... The pavement you mention is new from my time there long ago. How were the bugs? Wildlife? May someday I will do the ride to Baxter... I have often thought of riding my bike from Vermont to Greenville for my high school reunion (Go Lakers!) whenever I would get the time. I am sure none of my classmates would attempt such a feat...and they would think me nuts. Even though I think of Greenville every now and again, Vermont is my home now. It is wonderful riding, great people, and bike friendly.

  8. #8
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    The bugs were after my blood in a big way at my campsite north of Kokadjo. I managed by wearing long sleeves, long pants and gloves along with a no-see-um headnet. The only difficulty came while eating supper when I had to lift the headnet to get a mouthful of food. Some 100% DEET Old Woodsman's on my chin seemed to take care of most of that problem.

    I use a hammock and tarp with a tube of no-see-um netting so sleeping wasn't a big problem. The coyotes howling across the road from my campsite made falling asleep a bit of a challenge. That was probably my main wildlife encounter. I saw bear sign and a deceased moose along the G.R. along with the ravens that were beginning to work it over.

  9. #9
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    Motoman,
    i (61)live in enosburg, vt and want to ride to baxter state park to hike the knife edge. I do want to take the golden road from greenville. Any interest?
    ferd

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    Do they now let you ride your bike on the logging roads? I used to live in Presque Isle, and wanted to ride the logging roads from Ashland to Greenville. But it was not legal to do so back then, in the early '90's.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by flauffer View Post
    Motoman,
    i (61)live in enosburg, vt and want to ride to baxter state park to hike the knife edge. I do want to take the golden road from greenville. Any interest?
    ferd
    I checked into this last year and found that biking is not allowed on the Golden Rd
    1965 Moulton Speed 4, 1974 Fuji 12 speed, 1987 DB Ascent EX, 2006 Dahon Speed TR, 2009 Salsa Fargo, 2011 Gravity 29.4, 2011 Salsa Casseroll, 2012 Surly Moonlander

  12. #12
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    Biking is "technically" not allowed on the Golden Rd. nor the road to Kathadin Iron Works from Greenville, which is gated as BTW and they will not let you thru on a bike.

    The road from Greenville to Kokadjo - 14 miles, is paved. It's another 15 miles on the Silas Hill / Baxter State Park Rd. to the Golden Rd, which comes in from the west. it's all dirt/gravel.

    Then it 10 more miles to the Telos Rd. and somewhere south of Ripogenous Dam the Golden Rd. is paved. Telos Rd. to Millinocket is about 20 miles, Ride with GPS has Greenville to Millinocket as 72 miles, one-way.

    There are no gates on any of the stretch from Kokadjo to Millinocket so nobody to really check, unless you run into a zealous "ranger" of the Great North Woods Co. And they don't really "patrol" this stretch and only then have juristiction over the Golden Rd., which is company owned (not sure of the Silas Hill/BSP Rd.)

    Would I want to bike this ?. Not really. It's a dusty road unless there's a drizzle. Not much scenery really, except trees, till you hit Ripogenus Dam. It's about 17 miles further to go south and east thru Dover-Foxroft.
    Last edited by Steve B.; 07-20-14 at 03:43 PM.

  13. #13
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    All of Steve B.'s statements are very accurately supported from my experience in '08, with one exception. Riding gravel is something I enjoy for its challenges but it's not for everyone.

    Phil

  14. #14
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    I agree with Phil and share his sentiments for riding gravel and dirt, especially on a c-cross bike, touring bike, mt. bike, etc... It's about the best way to get out "there", especially if camping, self-supported.

    That said, I don't think the Silas Hill or "Baxter State Park" road, as it's called on Google, or any section of the Golden Road would be one of my first choices, if only due to the potential conflicts with logging trucks who are trying very hard to get their product to town as quickly as possible. As well as the occasional private vehicle, the dust in a dry season might make me want off that road in a hurry, or at least that was my opinion having driven the route twice.

    As correction, the "controlling" company for most of the logging roads that are privately owned and maintained is known as North Maine Woods.

    Their website is here: North Maine Woods, Ashland, Maine

    They are clear in their information that "No bicycles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles or horses are allowed at any time of year in the North Maine Woods area. This is necessary for logging road safety and to reduce the possibility for forest fires in hard to reach locations."
    How a bicycle increase the fire hazard is unclear, but they obviously feel it's a safety issue.
    As noted in other posts, the only real method NMW has to limit bikes is via the gated checkpoints. Those are clearly marked on the website and I doubt they'd be enforcing area's that are not gated.

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